Several small groups of 'accused' persons were waiting around the statute of Lady Justice on the premises of Annex Building of the Supreme Court in the capital city on Wednesday. They were waiting for anticipatory bail.
Abu Bakar Mollah, a man from Jashore, told this correspondent, “I’m about to turn 80. They say I forcefully occupied a polling centre!”
Abu Bakar Mollah was the oldest person in the group. He can’t see well and his suffering increases when it is winter. Now the hassle of a lawsuit has been added to his worries.
He, however, takes comfort in one thing. His only son is accompanying him since Abu Hanifa has also been accused alongside many of their neighbours in the lawsuit.
The 79-year-old told Prothom Alo he does not know what had happened.
“I was going to cast my vote at Sreepur Government Primary School centre (for the 11th parliament). Suddenly I heard sound of gunshots near the polling centre. I returned home without voting. Later, I learnt that my only son and I were accused in a lawsuit filed in connection with the incident.”
Three or four more elderly people in their sixties also talked to this correspondent. One of them is Abu Taleb Khan. He was also accused in a case filed for opening gunfire and exploding crude bombs at a voting centre.
“All allegations are there in the case statement. Cocktails, bullets and many other things ... I haven’t even seen the weapons the case statement claimed I used to attack the centre,” he said.
Most of those accused are just small farmers or sharecroppers. Now they are on the run fearing arrest.
Several younger accused persons said a case was filed against 40 people of Manirampur, two against 150 from Jashore sadar and one against 74 in Abhaynagar. Many were made accused in Sharsha upazila too.
Prothom Alo asked superintendent of police in Jashore Mainul Haque about the involvement of those people with the incidents.
“They were made accused because they were primarily seemed to be involved in the incidents. Their names will be excluded if they are found innocent in the investigation,” he said.
People from greater Mymensingh also came to up while this correspondent was talking to Jashore people.
Seventy-two-year-old Md Abdul Hye is from Kendua in Netrokona. He said he does not know why the case was filed against him.
“I’m staying at my home even after the case was filed against me. The police couldn’t identify me though I was walking alongside them Still I’d come since everyone was talking about bail,” he said.
Another accused from Ghatail of Tangail Abdul Aziz Munshi came along with Shamsul Haque, almost crippled due to brain haemorrhage. Shamsul Haque is almost a deaf and stops talking mid-sentence.
Aziz Munshi said he and 50 others were accused in a case filed for allegedly attacking a polling office of ruling Bangladesh Awami League in Ghatail upazila.
“How did a man, who cannot even move, attack the AL office so far from his home?” he asked.
The people of greater Mymensingh said they have been jointly bearing the cost of lawyers, communication and food.
But the cost for Shamsul Haque is more. He had to hire a microbus at the cost of Tk 8,000 since he cannot travel by bus.
Despite trying for several times, the Ghatail police station officer-in-charge Maksudul Alam could not be contacted for comment.
The old people like the younger ones have been waiting for justice on the court premises. Most of them do not have money, wear tattered clothes and very cheap sandals, and eating puffed rice or peanuts, hoping they would get bail and get a chance to sleep on their beds.
While returning home, Aziz Munshi from Ghatail said, “I request you all to pray for me. I haven’t committed even one crime. The One above is watching everything.”